This article, written by Marla Roth-Fisch, is part of Future Horizons’ Author News Series, where we feature contributions from our authors.
So often going to the dentist can be a nightmare to many children (as well as adults), either a routine check-up or minor/major procedures. However, this experience in particular can be especially challenging for those with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There are sights, smells, sounds, touches, tastes and movements at the dental office, which if not addressed, could be a disastrous one.
My inspiration for writing Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist, stems from speaking with so many parents/caregivers of special needs children, and the increasing number of special needs children that are not getting the oral hygiene necessary to keep them from developing much bigger dental problems. Watching children smile is an added bonus!
The intention of this book is to provide a resource to those that need help with taking their special needs or typical child to the dentist.
Plus, it is loaded with hints for parents with so many creative ideas to make the visit much more enjoyable.
Not only did I draw on my personal experience, but in addition, Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist offers practical advice from dentists (including pediatric dentists), and orthodontists specializing in children with special needs, such as brushing and flossing tips. Parents and sensory specialists also share stories of best and worst case scenarios, and tips on how to deal with speech changes when losing teeth. Monty the Molar gives us direction to read the tips in the back of the book that corresponds to various pages.
Additional topics include:
- How old should your child be to make their first visit to the dentist?
- The five biggest mistakes I made -- and what I'd caution others about -- in regards to the dentist, by Bobbi Sheahan, author of What I Wish I'd Known about Raising a Child with Autism.
- Four things you can do to help your child prepare for the dentist (by Britt Collins).
- Recommendations for families who have a sensory sensitive child who must go to the dentist.
- A list of in-sync activities parents can do with their child while at the dental office, by The Out-of-sync Child author Carol Stock Kranowitz.
- Top three remedies for the fussy teether.
- Tactics to make the dental exam less torturous for all concerned by Terri Mauro, author of Children with Special Needs About.com.
- Top 10 recommendations for your child’s dental visit, by Barbara Smith, MS, OTR/L, author of From Rattles to Writing: A Parent's Guide to Hand Skills.
- Not all children like losing teeth and some of the physical changes and speech sounds that are the result by Katie Yeh, SLP
This book is endorsed by dentists and child-development experts.
"Having a good first experience with going to the dentist will help a child with autism tolerate the dentist. This book will help children on the spectrum better understand visits to the dentist." - Dr. Temple Grandin
"What could be more difficult for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) than a visit to the dentist? Even the thought of the appointment can send some children into a meltdown. Now, finally, there is a book for children that moms and dads can read to and with their child at home before they go to the dentist. When the story is read over and over again, a child will internalize the message: ‘I am happy now, my dental exam, a breeze. And it’s time for Mom, sis, and I to leave.’ I highly recommend this entertaining and pragmatic approach to increasing the comfort of children with SPD when visiting their dentists! Happy teeth cleaning to all!” - Dr. Lucy Jane Miller
Marla Roth-Fisch is the author and illustrator of Sensitive Sam and Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist. Follow Marla on Twitter at @Sensitive_Sam and "like" Sensitive Sam on Facebook.